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(Called the great; Island of Cos, current Greece, 460 BC-Larisa, id., 370 BC) Greek physician. According to tradition, Hippocrates descended from a lineage of Mages from the island of Cos, and was directly related with Asclepius, the Greek God of medicine. Contemporary of Socrates and Plato, this cites it several times in his works. Apparently, during his youth, Hippocrates visited Egypt, where they became acquainted with the medical work which tradition attributes to Imhotep.
But without some basis, is considered to Hippocrates, author of a sort of encyclopedia of antiquity consisting of several dozens of books (between 60 and 70). In his texts, which are generally accepted as belonging to their school, defends the concept of disease as the result of an imbalance between the so-called liquid humors of the body, i.e. blood, phlegm and yellow bile or anger and black bile or melancholy, theory that would later develop Galen and the medicine that would dominate until the enlightenment.
To fight against these conditions, the Hippocratic corpus uses a scalpel or cautery, proposes the use of medicinal plants and recommended clean air and a healthy and balanced diet. The contributions of Hippocratic medicine include consideration of the body as a whole, the emphasis on the realization of detailed observations of symptoms and taking into account the clinical history of patients.
In the field of ethics of the medical profession is credited with the famous oath that bears his name, which will later become a traditional ethical statement in medical practice, which obliges who pronounces it, among other things, into "houses for the sole purpose of caring for and curing the sick», «prevent suspicion of having abused the trust of patients in particular of women» and «keep the secret of what creates that must remain reserved».
Although initially attributed entirely to Hippocrates, the so-called Hippocratic collection is actually a set of thematic medical writings that exhibit different tendencies, which in certain cases may even oppose each other. These writings date, generally, of the period between 450 and 350 BC, and are the primary source through which it is possible today to get an idea of practices and medical concepts before the Alexandrian period.
In this collection, the so-called «old medicine» is one of the oldest and most famous treaties and he suggests the author, among other proposals, investigate the origin of the art practised, origin, which is in the desire to offer the human being a regime of life and, in particular, a form of food that fits their more immediate needs in a completely rational way. For this reason, it is considered for example learning the proper cooking of food as a first manifestation of the search for a life better.
On the other hand, the texts of the Hippocratic collection show without a doubt that the practice of precise observation in the whole of Greek medicine was not a conquest of the classical period, but rather constituted a tradition firmly rooted in the past and that in the middle of the 5th century had already achieved a remarkable level of development.